Garlic Scape Pesto, Roasted Purple Cauliflower, and nourriture à Nice

Just so you don’t think there will never be anything but vacation and animal pictures on this blog, first a couple sort-of recipes. Last weekend at the farmers market, in addition to my normal basket full of stuff, I scored both a beautiful purple cauliflower …

… and some garlic scapes. This is the first time I’ve ever found garlic scapes at the market! (I have bought them in Asian grocery stores, however.)

There aren’t any new farmers this year but the market seems better than last year; the farmers seem to have a wider variety of vegetables. Which is so very welcome, because believe me, after attending the farmers market in Nice, I was bracing for a big letdown once I got home and went to my own market, even if I had been missing it dearly all winter.

The cauliflower, I just cut up into florets, drizzled some olive oil and fresh lemon juice over them, and sprinkled them with some sel de provence I got in Nice (by the way, I’m going to say “Nice” about a million times in this post; I LOVED Nice) …

… then I roasted it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for a while – maybe half an hour? Until it was done. The magenta coloring on some stalks is from the lemon juice.

The garlic scapes I roughly chopped …

… then I put them in the VitaMix (a food processor would work, of course) with about 1/3 cup cashews (the only nuts I had in the house; I’d have used pine nuts or walnuts if I’d had them), 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, a little salt, a bit of lemon juice, and 1/2 cup olive oil …

… and processed until smooth.

I took some whole baby potatoes (also from the farmers market) and boiled them for about 5 minutes, then drained the water and banged them around in the pan a bit (a tip I read in another blog somewhere but I don’t remember where), then put them in a baker and drizzled with a bit of olive oil and baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes.

Then I took them out and stirred in some of the pesto, then returned them to the oven and baked another 10 minutes or so.

I served both with a rice and lentil pilaf, into which I stirred leftover pizza toppings from the night before, which included spinach, caramelized onions, and garlicky sun-dried tomatoes (which I’d made as a take on some amazing sun-dried tomatoes we bought in Nice.

I got more garlic scapes at the market this weekend – not one but two vendors were selling them! What are your favorite ways of using them? I’d love to hear. I’m thinking about pickling some.

Now, Nice Nice Nice. Nice is soooo nice. After a week in Paris, we hopped on a train to Nice, on which we met up with Brad and April, who you’ll recognize as our fabulous hosts in Amsterdam from prior posts and who had come to join us in splendid Nice. Situated in the French Riviera and very close to Italy, Nice has a huge Italian influence. As it’s right on the Mediterranean Sea, many of the restaurants predominately feature seafood. Neither seafood restaurants nor traditional French restaurants cater very well to vegans, but the good news is the heavy Italian influence means pasta abounds, and every Nicean restaurant we visited had a vegan pasta-and-tomato-sauce dish. Mark and I ate a lot of pasta in Nice, to the point of getting a little tired of it, although somehow we managed to go to various restaurants in such an order that the pasta-and-tomato-sauce dish in each one was better than the last, which helped.

Our first night we unloaded our bags in our terrible hotel, then walked to the boardwalk and wandered until we found a reasonably priced beachfront restaurant with outdoor seating and a pasta alla pomodoro on the menu. This was easy to find. After a long day of travel, with a bottle of wine, this simple meal was just right.

I’m a terrible food blogger and didn’t manage to record the names of any of the restaurants we visited in Nice…although you’ll find similar dishes anywhere you stop. Another dinner was in old town Nice (Vieux Nice), in one of the restaurants that turns the tents for the daily market into outdoor seating in the evening. Mark got the linguine with vegetables, which was really good.

And I got the risotto, which was made with olive oil and no cheese, to my surprise! It had mushrooms in it, which I hate, but they were easy enough to eat around and I was just so happy to be able to order risotto that I didn’t care. In fact, on very rare occasions, I am able to eat mushrooms without gagging, and I believe this risotto may have been one of those exceptions.

We found ourselves in Monaco one day (it’s strange how these things happen over there; you wander off and suddenly you’re in another country), where food seemed to be a bit limited, but soon another Italianesque restaurant saved the day and Mark and I got penne all’arribiata, which was surprisingly delicious. Well, I always think penne all’arribiata is delicious, but I was surprised by how delicious I found it after eating Italian food for several days in a row. Love the huge branch of rosemary it came with!

Brad and April had pizza in Monaco (you can see a bit of April’s in the picture above, and in fact, if you look really hard, you can see a bit of Carrie the poodle as well!) and I’ll be honest, I was quite jealous. It’s rare I’ll look enviously at someone’s non-vegan meal because meat and – it’s true – cheese gross me out. But pizza done right (I’m not talking about Dominos pizza, but GOOD pizza) is something I will covet. So the next day in Eze (oh, beautiful, beautiful Eze), when we stopped for lunch in a lovely outdoor cafe at the top of the hill, amongst the medieval ruins, I worked up the nerve to ask the waiter if it was at all possible to get the roasted vegetable pizza without the cheese, and guess what! He didn’t think it was a crazy request at all! He just said “certainly!” I would have preferred a “real” pizza crust (this was one kinda crunchy like toast), but IT WAS PIZZA AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

I accompanied my pizza with a panache, which is apparently the French version of what I would call a shandy: lemonade + beer, where lemonade = Sprite-like beverage, as in British-English, not American lemonade. Refreshing!

If you are vegan and thinking by now that the French Riviera must be really boring to eat in – pasta, pasta, and more pasta, unless you work up the nerve to ask for cheeseless pizza – well, rest assured that like any other city, Nice has ethnic restaurants that will often have vegetarian options. For example, we found a Chinese restaurant that had several vegetarian dishes, including this Tofu Piquante …

… and sauteed noodles with legumes.

We also went to an Indian restaurant, which was quite good, but the pictures I took were blurry, probably because I was exhausted and starving at the time. But just know you’ll do fine as a vegan in Nice. You might have to pass more restaurants by than you would in, say, L.A., but there are plenty of options. It might be harder to be vegan AND gluten-free as a lot of those options are pasta-related, but I think gluten-free in general is probably harder in much of Europe than it is here in the States.

Nice and Eze were so incredibly beautiful I am going to have to do a final vacation post with a few breath-taking photos later this week, but I’ll finish up this food-related post with a bit about the market, and a traditional Nice snack that is – believe it or not! – vegan. The views were enough to make me want to move to Nice, but attending the market was what really put me over the edge. The open air market operates all morning six days a week (on Monday it is replaced with a flea market), in the old section of the city. At one end, there are many stalls with flowers, although their perfumes were a bit overwhelming and drove poor Mark out. Then you come to several stalls selling dried lavender in just about any form you can imagine, soaps, and some touristy-type things. Then there are a couple of stalls with an amazing array of bulk spices. This is a stall full of dried peppers and other chile-related products.

Finally you get to the produce. It’s all gorgeous. We bought some cherries and wandered around the market eating them and I’m pretty sure they were the best cherries I’ve ever had.

Nestled amongst the produce stalls is a socca station, where a socca-making lady is kept extremely busy. Socca is a Nice specialty made from chickpea flour and it’s generally vegan. I had to stand in line for quite some time to get some at the market (though the market is not the only place to get it). From my place in line, I watched a couple of batches being made. The final portion of this batch was sold before it was my turn.

Fortunately, she whisked up another batch and poured it onto the large cooking tray (under which there is a fire), then drizzled it with olive oil.

When it was finally my turn, I ordered the last three pieces from the batch above, to share with Mark, Brad, and April. Before being cut up, it was sprinkled with ground black pepper, which, combined with the texture, led me to think of the white part of fried eggs when I was eating it; I suppose my mother used to put ground pepper on our sunny side-up eggs when I was a kid. Socca was really good. I think Mark would like me to make it at home, but although I probably will try David Lebowitz’s recipe (linked to above) I think it’s one of those things that you’ve really got to get on location. If you go to Nice, it’s a must-try.

Oh, Nice. I miss you so. Here’s a teaser for what will be my final vacation post. One day I would like this to be home, not a vacation!


  1. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy Said,

    June 4, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    purple cauliflower!! there’s something about eating purple food that is just fun:) and your restaurant meals look delicious! i love pesto potatoes! thanks for sharing!

  2. Josiane Said,

    June 5, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

    Your garlic scape pesto must be soooo good! I have to give that a try. We haven’t been very creatove or original in the ways we’ve used our garlic scapes so far – we’ve pretty much always ended sautéing them. It’s awesome that you can now find them at your farmers market – yay for farmers offering a wider variety of vegetables!

    I have yet to visit the south of France, and you’re making Nice sound very compelling! It’d be great to try real socca – I say ‘real’ as opposed to the chickpea crêpes I make that I call socca and that are certainly but a pale imitation of the real thing! I use the recipe you’ve linked to for the ingredients and proportions, but I cook mine in a large skillet instead of baking it in the oven, as in this recipe.

    I’m looking forward to reading more about your time in Nice!

  3. Jes Said,

    June 6, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    Love scapes! Going to make a batch of scape pesto this week, actually.

    As for Nice–everything looks great! All the pasta looks delicious and that pizza, while a little weird with the toast-crust, has incredible looking roasted veggies on top. Glad you found things to eat!

  4. maya Said,

    June 7, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

    i totally understand. a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper on my vegenaise-tofu salad really does make it taste a whole lot like egg salad, in a very good way.

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